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Senate Bills came home to Gilmer County Monday night at the Board of Education Meeting as the Board heard a presentation in its new Parent and Community Engagement Section.

The presentation was to provide information on Senate Bill 133 which is set for citizens to vote on in November. This bill will allow the Governor of Georgia to take over “failing schools” in the state and appoint his own Superintendents to control those schools staff, curriculum, budget, and administration.

These Opportunity School Districts, as they are called, are still not fully defined as to what constitutes a “failing school” or who the Governor could appoint or if he could bring in companies to control the Schools.

The OSD superintendent would be authorized to waive State Board of Education rules, regulations, policies, procedures and provisions for OSD schools, but not federal, state or local government rules or court orders. The OSD would be able to select, approve or remove the OSD schools’ principals, transfer teachers, control the schools’ budgets and modify education content.

FYN caught up with Dr. Shanna Wilkes to ask about the bill. Dr. Wilkes replied, “Opportunity School District is billed as a way to help low performing schools, but it would really take away all local control of schools while utilizing local tax dollars, bypass the elected state school superintendent and state board of education and open the doors for privatization of public schools. My concern is two-fold, first removing the voice of local taxpayers and second how ‘low performing’ is defined.”

Also reported in Monday’s presentation, Senate Bill 133, if approved, would have the state likely to start taking over schools beginning with the 2017-18 school year.

Moving into facilities information, a welcome announcement came from Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes offering the possibility that Graduation could be held on the football field if the weather could hold out. With the progression of the Athletic center moving along, the Board turned attention to the Agricultural Education Center as they approved a Guaranteed Maximum Price of $3,417,973.

The Board of Education also approved Parrish Construction as the low bid for the Ellijay Elementary School Bathrooms at $197,400. This projects work will include selective demolition and renovation of bathrooms at Ellijay Elementary School, as well as two alternates. The Alternates are to demolish and replace “epoxy resinous flooring from two previously renovated restrooms” and to remove 4 wall sinks and install two “multi-user wash fountains.”

Also in this weeks meetings, the Board approved a $2,500 bid for the sale of an older Modular Unit the school owned.

Final approvals came through Thursday’s Regular Session for the Monthly Financials, 2010 ESPLOST, 2015 ESPLOST, and Policy Changes for First Reading, and Final Approval after Second Readings.

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